Advancement in technology is permitting the offshore oil and gas industry to move into progressively deeper and colder waters in remote locations. ULSTEIN supports this development by providing products and solutions that contribute to safer, smarter and greener operations.
A case in point is the versatile and flexible OCV/subsea vessel design SX121, which ULSTEIN is currently building customized versions of for GC Rieber Shipping and Island Offshore. The design can be tailored for a multitude of offshore construction and subsea operations in deep and ultra-deep waters both below and above the Arctic Circle.
Deepwater and ultra-deepwater projects occur outside of the continental shelf at water depths between 400 and 1,500 metres and depths greater than 1,500 metres respectively. Deep waters mean remote locations, harsh weather conditions and sensitive ecosystems. This type of environment requires vessels that are reliable and safe, cost-efficient and environmentally sound.
“We aim to develop ships that can operate reliably, safely and efficiently in harsh conditions with as small an environmental footprint as possible. The robust configuration, system integration and X-BOW® hull line of the SX121 ensure safety and comfort for the crew, an increased operational window and significantly reduced environmental impact,” says sales manager in Ulstein Design & Solutions, Lars Ståle Skoge.
Currently, there are four sailing SX121 vessels designed and built by ULSTEIN. The vessels, which operate in different segments such as offshore construction, riserless well intervention and inspection/maintenance/repair, have received very good feedback.
Gordon L. Wilkinson in Veolia ES said the following about ‘Viking Poseidon’’s work in the Gulf of Mexico: “She is the Queen of the Gulf.”
At the end of 2012 shipowner Island Offshore, together with their American partner Edison Chouest Offshore, ordered another SX121 vessel from ULSTEIN currently under construction at Ulstein Verft. “We’ve received very good feedback on our two operating vessels of this design, ‘Island Constructor’ and ‘Island Intervention’,” says Technical Manager in Island Offshore, Trond Hauge. “I’m confident that this type of vessel is a safe and comfortable platform for the performance of advanced work in the years to come.”
Optimized for heavier installations
“The SX121 is a compact vessel that can perform deepwater and ultra-deepwater operations for which currently larger vessels are frequently used, thus providing the customer with a more cost-efficient solution,” says Håvard Stave, Sales Manager in Ulstein Verft.
“The typical SX121 vessel operates at depths down to 3,000 metres, which comprises most current oil & gas activities. The need to deploy heavier equipment in deep waters such as offshore Brazil and Africa and in the Gulf of Mexico, has spurred market interest in OCV vessels with a 400-tonne crane, which we’ve now incorporated in the SX121 design.”
ULSTEIN has drawn on experiences from its latest SX121 projects, and optimized the utilization of the hull with regards to work from deck as well as crane construction work, resulting in an even more versatile OCV/subsea vessel.
The robust platform is optimized for efficient operations in deep waters with a crane capacity of up to 400 tonnes and a substantial remaining deck loading capacity, and it can be configured for a variety of mission equipment. There is a large deck area of 1,750 m2, and the area around the main moon pool is reinforced in order to sustain a VLS or module handling system. The ROV installation is designed and chosen for operations in significant wave heights of 4.5 metres or more. Two heavy-duty work ROVs are situated in the enclosed hangar, one to be deployed from the starboard side, the other through a dedicated moon pool.
A reliable vessel is key for cost-efficiency, as down-time and aborting on-going operations are costly affairs, particularly when operating far from shore.
The SX121 vessel meets the highest standard for position keeping, DYNPOS-AUTRO, with redundancy on all major components. Featuring the ‘Operation+’ concept, an increase in redundancy in AUTR operations if a single major failure occurs, the vessel will still maintain system redundancy throughout the most critical areas. The typical configuration is diesel electric propulsion powered by six identical medium speed main generator sets. The switchboard system, propellers and diesel motors can be configured in groups of two, three or four. If a major failure occurs, the vessel will only lose one third of its power and propulsion. The combination of system architecture and power stations, three side thrusters and three main thrusters, ensures that the operation can be safely completed using two thirds of its capacity.
Smart and safe
In order to optimize capacities and performance of the vessel, the freeboard has been increased by one metre compared with the previously built vessels of this design. This increase also improves safety and ensures a dry work deck. In addition, the helideck has been moved further back in order to increase the weather window for helicopter landings.
The vessel’s X-BOW provides good motion characteristics for safe operations. It also reduces the vessel’s environmental footprint through lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions. With optimized resolution of the power generation plant, the vessel will have high fuel efficiency in all operational modes.
The vessel accommodates a crew of 130 and complies with all international requirements for comfort and safety.
The hull of the offshore construction and well intervention vessel “Polar Onyx”, built by the order from Norwegian company Ulstein Hull AS, has been launched at Shipyard Zaliv on May 31, 2013.
The hull is currently moored alongside the outfitting berth of the Ukraine-based yard and is waiting to be towed to Norway to the place of final completion.
The high-capacity vessel is designed for operations in harsh conditions and deep waters, with a length of 130 meters and a 25 meter beam. The vessel is built to the highest standard for dynamic positioning, DP2+, and is equipped with a 250t AHC offshore crane. It is also equipped with a 275t Vertical Lay System above a moonpool which is capable of installing flexible pipe and umbilicals to 3,000m water depth.
In total, during the six years of cooperation between Zaliv and Ulstein Hull AS, fourteen vessels have been built for work in the oil and gas industry.
When working in the most extreme offshore environments, crews have to be able to rely on the absolute integrity and performance of their vessels. Ulstein Group has joined forces with GC Rieber Shipping to offer the market a new standard in operational security and performance – a ship that refuses to accept failure, thanks to the pioneering ‘operation+’ philosophy.
GC Rieber Shipping, the Norway-based harsh environment shipping specialist, has charged ULSTEIN with developing a high-capacity subsea vessel based on its SX121 design. This NOK 800 million ship, ordered in June 2012, alongside an option for a sister vessel, has been commissioned in response to strong market desire for offshore construction support vessels (CSVs) for deep and harsh environments.
Reliability in the extreme
Alongside state-of-the-art features, equipment and performance figures, the vessel will give GC Rieber Shipping maximum operational availability – a vital characteristic for both the company and those chartering the ship. Downtime will be minimised thanks to the ‘operation+’ feature, an evolution of GC Rieber Shipping’s own ‘fail-to-safe’ design approach.
‘Operation+’ allows the vessel to continue to operate even if it has experienced a significant failure. Bjørn Valberg, GC Rieber Shipping’s Technical Director, explains more:
“Fail-to-safe means that even if a ship encounters a failure it is rendered in a safe condition. Our objective with this ship is to take that philosophy a step further,” Valberg comments.
“In the case of this vessel a single failure – such as a failure of a generator set, a single thruster or even an entire switchboard section (operating two generators and two thrusters) – will not threaten the redundant continuation of operations, giving charterers real peace of mind.”
Valberg illustrates this with a real-life scenario involving subsea flex pipe laying – an operation the new vessel is optimised for – where, if a single failure was encountered, a ‘standard’ ship would be forced to terminate operations as redundancy would be jeopardised.
“And of course,” he states, “if you are in deep waters with a substantial length of product, such as flex pipe, hanging from the ship, abandoning that operation is, well… it’s quite obvious how difficult, time-consuming and expensive that is.
“This new vessel, thanks to ‘operation+’ is protected against that scenario – it could continue with its assignment. That’s a hugely important characteristic of that vessel, helping the charterer meet the demanding expectations of the market.”
Configured for success
ULSTEIN’s design and solutions team has been working to turn this concept into reality and deliver the Holy Grail of minimal operational downtime and maximum efficiency and reliability.
Geir Sivertstøl, principal engineer electrical systems at ULSTEIN, says the vessel, equipped with three main thrusters and three side thrusters (for stationkeeping during pipe laying), is fully optimised for carrying out assignments without interruption.
He notes: ”The switchboard system, propellers and diesel motors can be configured in groups of two, three or four. In case of an AUTR operation (i.e. the occurrence of a single major failure), the vessel will only lose one third of its installed power package and propulsion, and will be able to complete the operation with two thirds of its capacity.”
“This,” he stresses, “in combination with the highest standards for dynamic positioning, DYNPOS-AUTRO, will ensure that charterers can look forward to operational standards that are custom made to tackle the world’s harshest – and potentially most resource rich – environments.”
Equipped, flexible, compelling
GC Rieber Shipping’s version of the SX121 (yard number 300 at Ulstein Verft) has been equipped to meet the most diverse requirements, in the most demanding of conditions.
The 130-metre long, 25-metre wide vessel can accommodate a crew of 130 and cut through deep waters with a top speed of 14.5 knots, while meeting all the latest environmental standards. She is equipped with a powerful 250 ton AHC (active heave compensated) offshore crane, perfect for lifting and lowering heavy equipment to and from subsea environments.
A large cargo deck creates the optimal environment for a variety of operations, ensuring that the vessel is well placed to meet the hugely diverse demands of the offshore construction market. It also offers the ability to carry two ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) – one that will be launched from the starboard side and the other through a moon pool.
In addition, the ship has been designed with SURF (subsea umbilical riser and flowline) capabilities and is prepared for the installation of a below-deck basket/ carousel with a 2500 ton capacity, as well as a 250 ton VLS (vertical lay system) for deployment through the moon pool.
It is, as Valberg stresses, a compellingly comprehensive package: “One of the main reasons for choosing the SX121 design from ULSTEIN was its inherent flexibility, which allows several types of operations and enables us to operate in a wider range of market segments. The fact that we can utilise the 250 ton crane to the maximum of its capability both in offshore and subsea lifts on this vessel was another deciding factor.”
GC Rieber Shipping’s vessel is, according to Tore Ulstein, deputy CEO in Ulstein Group, the ‘perfect project’ for ULSTEIN to show its renowned design and shipbuilding pedigree. Tore Ulstein notes that the business is well accustomed to developing and producing vessels that have the capability to minimise operational downtime, maximising customers’ profits.
He commented: “Our organisation has broad expertise in developing advanced high-capacity offshore vessels together with customers, so this project suits us perfectly.”
The SX121 is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2014, boosting GC Rieber Shipping’s fleet (which was fully booked at the conclusion of 2011) of 18 advanced special purpose vessels, 12 of which are owned by the company.
CEO in GC Rieber Shipping, Irene W. Basili, has imparted that the new addition to the company will “strengthen our position in the high-end subsea segment” and that she is looking forward to receiving “a top-class vessel from ULSTEIN” – a sentiment that potential charterers will no doubt agree with.
GC Rieber Shipping has today ordered a new high capacity subsea vessel from Ulstein Verft with an option of one additional vessel. The new building, to be delivered in the first quarter of 2014, represents a total investment of approximately NOK 800 million.
“The market for this type of vessel is expected to be attractive going forward. This investment is consistent with our strategy to strengthen our position in the high end subsea segment. We have an attractive and flexible ship design with interesting potential also in the SURF market as well as a favorable delivery date,” says CEO Irene W. Basili in GC Rieber Shipping.
GC Rieber Shipping concluded 2011 with a fully booked fleet and significantly improved operational performance. The company expects a strong demand within advanced subsea operations in the coming years, which has been the basis for making this investment now.
The vessel is a construction support vessel “CSV” designed to operate in harsh and deep waters with length of 130m and beam of 25m. It is built to the highest standard for dynamic positioning DP-3 and equipped with a 250t AHC offshore crane. Furthermore, the ship is designed to operate in the SURF market, with capacity for pipe loads below deck and on main deck, and a vertical pipe lay system above the moon pool.
The vessel will carry two ROVs; one is to be launched from the starboard side and the other through a moonpool. The ship has a large cargo deck for OCV work. She will have diesel electric propulsion and three main azimuth thrusters. The vessel can accommodate 130 persons and will be constructed in accordance with the latest international environmental regulations.
Basili looks forward to a positive partnership with Ulstein Verft. “GC Rieber Shipping has over many years developed considerable competence in the design of specialized vessels, and the constructive cooperation we have experienced with Ulstein to accommodate for our requirements , has been important. GC Rieber Shipping positions itself in the more challenging niches of the offshore market, and I am very comfortable that we will receive a top-class vessel from Ulstein,” says Basili.
”GC Rieber Shipping is a solid and experienced shipowner, and we are pleased that they have chosen ULSTEIN for this project. Subsea is one of our focus areas, and we will deliver a state-of-the-art offshore construction vessel (OCV) that will serve the shipowner well in the years to come,” states Gunvor Ulstein, CEO in Ulstein Group.
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